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I’m Sorry. I didn’t get that.

I’m Sorry. I didn’t get that.

Hearing: Hong Kong’s nature concerto

South China Morning Post
  • Written by South China Morning Post

The sounds most associated with Hong Kong are honking horns and the buzz of busy streets. But those who live here know of another side to the territory. Find out more in our interview with Himalayan singing bowl artist, Tsang Man-tung or scroll down for two routes leading you over the hills to where you can be soothed by waves caressing long white sands or thrilled by secluded coves where the surf thunders in against the rocks.

Sound therapies are a rising wellness trend and one of the most effective orchestras is the outdoors itself. Hong Kong artist Tsang Man-tung integrates nature into his singing bowl performances and says that simply stepping into the city’s countryside is akin to getting a detox sound bath.

Himalayan singing bowl artist, Tsang Man-tung has a special relationship with Hong Kong’s countryside. Raised by his maternal grandparents on Lamma Island, Tsang grew up with a strong affinity for nature and a life away from the hustle and bustle.

In June, he made a special trip to Shek O, a coastal ‘day out’ for families and hikers. Tsang, an avid hiker himself back in the day, has walked many of Hong Kong’s trails, including the MacLehose Trail, a spectacular 100 km route that cuts across Hong Kong’s New Territories district. Named by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 20 dream trails, it stretches from the eastern territory of Sai Kung, to the west in Tuen Mun. When asked whether he would experience Hong Kong entirely differently now, he says he would now enjoy the calming sounds of water, fauna and the wind rustling through the leaves on a deeper level.

Shek O has the perfect combination of water and wind sounds.

Tsang stands on the rocky beach next to Shek O Village while the ocean waves break against smooth, red-hued boulders. It reminds him of his childhood years on Lamma Island. “The layers in the sounds are very nice and soothing,” he adds.

He believes in using nature’s own sounds as part of his performances. “When I perform outdoors it is not just for people, I perform for everything that is in the immediate environment,” Tsang says, encompassing everything from trees to frogs, and indicating that they in return will respond. “In that moment, nature is performing with you.”

The rushing sound of the waterfall makes you think they are giving you a [mental] cleansing.

Water is one of the most important sound elements to Tsang. He frequents a waterfall near his home in the mountainous terrain of Tai Po, New Territories and it inspires him with a “symphony of sounds,” he says. “The rushing sound of the waterfall makes you think they are giving you a [mental] cleansing. When the water hits the rocks, it reminds you of the sound of percussion instruments. Further down, from a high speed to a very slow stream, to me it resembles a heartbeat.”

Ham Tin Wan

“Though we have more greenery than urban areas in Hong Kong, those who live in the city centre often forget how to wind down,” he says. “But you don’t have to do much… just go into nature and let it take care of you.” He likens the experience to taking a detoxing bath to cleanse mind and soul.

Tsang sometimes uses his singing bowls to mimic running water. “The bowl is always vibrating,” he says, like water, it flows and leads you down a path. But the bowl is also very susceptible to temperature changes, which alters sound quality. Made from copper and tin, the singing bowl is assembled from minerals and shaped through high heat; helping it generate many frequencies and variations of ‘overtones’.

There is nothing that Tsang would add if he were to give a performance in Shek O. Instead, he would try to guide the audience to hear what’s already there. “You have to respect the space and environment and keep things ‘pristine’,” he says.

Recommended explorations

Siu Sai Wan to Shek O

Follow the craggy shores of Hong Kong Island, which face out to the wide expanse of the South China Sea. Even on windless days, swells roll in and crash against the shore — the most spectacular cymbals in Mother Nature’s orchestra.

MacLehose Trail (Sections 1 and 2)

MacLehose Trail (Sections 1 and 2): relish the peace and quiet on this challenging hike

A tough but rewarding hike with some of the most stunning mountain and sea views around, not to mention spectacular beaches!

Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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